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All that glitters is still ‘old’

cricket Updated: Feb 19, 2010 23:24 IST
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In a country where Test cricket's popularity is being challenged by the shorter version of the game, it was fitting that the climax to India's victory came in front of a huge crowd at the Eden Gardens.

It is not just the corporate world and sponsors who are turning their back on the traditional form of the game, even the Indian Board seems far more focussed on the IPL. That is why it was important for the players, who value Tests far more, to have drawn the series level and avoid getting relegated to second spot in the world rankings.

The final day also showed that Test cricket can be enthralling even if no runs are being scored for hours together. Despite no fours, no sixes and not even singles being scored, the whole of India and, I am sure, even the South African public, were glued to their TV sets. With each defensive stroke from the batsmen, the tension became unbearable, though even a diehard Indian fan would get up and salute the monk-like resolve of Hashim Amla, who made it so hard for Dhoni and his men to win and stay as champions of the world.

The series, which was hurriedly scheduled on pressure from the players as India are hardly going to play much Test cricket this season and would have been pushed from the top by default, began disastrously. An embarrassing innings defeat at Nagpur had put them in a deep hole and by tea on the first day at the Eden, it looked all over for them. Inexplicably, from the South African point of view, their batsmen themselves literally threw away the match after having collared the Indian bowling for the first two sessions.

Much as we flaunt the "young India" as a tagline for our rise to the top, it is the old brigade which is keeping us alive and kicking. Be it Sehwag's brutal brilliance or Sachin Tendulkar's hunger and passion, which should put even a debutant to shame, this is a victory for "Old India" with VVS Laxman proving further that old is still gold. And despite the raw, exuberant energy which Harbhajan displays after ensnaring his victim, I am sure he won't take umbrage at being called belonging to the "old" rather than "new".

The unflappable Dhoni, who leads the team with remarkable calm and bats likewise, is the link between the old and the new. All India has to worry about is that they are still struggling to find the right young men to complete this chain which would be as strong and durable in the future as it is now.

India also needs to say a big thank you to the South Africans for having agreed to come and play here though it was India's turn to visit their country as Test series are generally scheduled on home and away basis. They had already come and played here after India last played in South Africa in 2006. They not only walked willingly into the lion's den and, like the last time around went back on equal terms, it does more credit to them than us.

It also defies logic and shows all those connected with drawing the international Test calendar in a very poor light that India is scheduled to play in South Africa this winter, after a gap of nearly four years. Its Number 1 rank will have more meaning and substance if they can win a Test series in South Africa and Australia, a feat they have yet to achieve so far.